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Meet the Aussie Decking Chippie

In the Sutherland Shire, south of Sydney, where Darren Brown calls home, outdoor living isn’t just reserved for summer, it’s a year-round way of life.

Blessed with some of Australia’s best weather, deck builders are in high demand. But Darren’s not cutting corners to get to the next job. Instead, he’s prioritising a quality finish that will go the distance for his clients, using a range of composite techniques he’s picked up from the U.S.A and fellow carpenters. In between running multiple jobs and managing a team, Darren shares his techniques with his growing audience on Instagram, teaching the next generation as the Aussie Decking Chippie.

Darren says that it’s the variety in deck building that he loves. “You’re never on one job for more than a couple of weeks. Bigger projects might take five or six weeks, but even then, there’s plenty of variety involved,” said Darren. After completing his apprenticeship 15 years ago, Darren put his skills to use building new homes and renovations before getting a job building decks. Since then, Darren has worked for himself and large decking companies, and twelve months ago, he went out on his own. Like his Instagram handle, he trades as the Aussie Decking Chippie.

For Darren, the benefit of running his own show is the flexibility to build his own designs. “I like to do custom decking. I’m not really a fan of the square, rectangle decks. If it’s square or rectangle, I want to throw a little design in there like a double herringbone border or two-tone decking,” said Darren. Darren credits the US for sparking his creativity with composite decking. “The decking industry over there is a lot more progressive than we are,” said Darren.

“I started watching people like Jason Russell ‘Dr. Decks’ on Instagram and the guys at the Ultimate Deck Shop. Just watching what they did with their stuff and trying to implement it out here.”

“It wasn’t a case of just getting on site and doing it one day, I was doing it in the garage.

I had a little lab set up, practising techniques before I put them on the site, to ensure they’d stand up to the Australian conditions,” said Darren.

Many chippies hang their hat on the quality of their mitres, but not Darren.  “In Sydney, the temperature can range from 40 degrees one day to six degrees in the morning, causing movement of the composite or hardwood boards. Mitres always seem to open up, so I avoid them at all costs,” said Darren.

Instead, Darren utilises folded corners, butt joins with finished ends and herringbone patterns for directional changes. He also bends composite boards to create curved decking features. Darren shares all his techniques online with how-to videos on Instagram. And his content is catching on. Not only for his instructional videos but his attention to detail and dedication to durability. His philosophy is to get it right, even if it takes an extra day on the job.

“There’s nothing worse than when I go to a job that’s a few years old, and it’s already falling apart, and you feel sorry for the client,” said Darren.

“I do believe composites are a lot easier to lay, but more technique is involved,” said Darren.

Darren has been partnering with Dahlsens for seven years since we were known as Midcoast Timber Centres in NSW. For him, it’s all about the service and his long-standing Dahlsens account manager, Paul McGuirk.

“Whenever I go into the stores, no matter where it is, the guys are always friendly and happy to help me.”

“It’s the onsite service as well. If I need something, they are quick to turn it around the next day. If I need something sourced that’s not on the shelves, they’ll go and get it for me. It gives me more time to focus on what I need to do,” said Darren.

“Everything is in the one spot, I don’t have to go to 10 different suppliers to source different decking or roofing materials. It’s just all under one roof for me, and this gives me more time on site. If I need to call Paul at any time to have a quick chat about all the work or even other stuff, he’s always available for me. And nothing’s too hard for him,” said Darren.

Dahlsens is incredibly proud to partner with Darren as well as all the builders who place their trust in us.
Thanks for taking the time to share your story, Darren.

We love what you do, and clearly so do many very happy home owners!

Composite decking techniques from the Aussie Decking Chippie

Folded corners
Darren uses heat-folded corners as a standard feature on all his decks.

Board bending
Curves are on-trend. Darren bends composite decking boards using heat for a unique look.

Finished butt end joins
Darren finishes exposed butt end joins with a filleted piece of composite decking, matching the grain with adjacent decking boards.

Herringbone change in direction
Another trick Darren uses to avoid mitred corners.

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